Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To change or make different; modify: altered my will.
  • transitive v. To adjust (a garment) for a better fit.
  • transitive v. To castrate or spay (an animal, such as a cat or a dog).
  • intransitive v. To change or become different.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To change the form or structure of.
  • v. To become different.
  • v. To tailor clothes to make them fit.
  • v. To castrate, neuter or spay (a dog or other animal).

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • transitive v. To make otherwise; to change in some respect, either partially or wholly; to vary; to modify.
  • transitive v. To agitate; to affect mentally.
  • transitive v. To geld.
  • intransitive v. To become, in some respects, different; to vary; to change

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To make some change in; make different in some particular; cause to vary in some degree, without an entire change.
  • To change entirely or materially; convert into another form or state: as, to alter a cloak into a coat; to alter an opinion.
  • To castrate, emasculate, or spay, as an animal.
  • To exchange.
  • To agitate: as, ”altered and moved inwardly,” Milton, Areopagitica, p. 1.
  • To become different in some respect; vary; change.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. cause to change; make different; cause a transformation
  • v. remove the ovaries of
  • v. become different in some particular way, without permanently losing one's or its former characteristics or essence
  • v. insert words into texts, often falsifying it thereby
  • v. make an alteration to

Etymologies

Middle English alteren, from Old French alterer, from Medieval Latin alterāre, from Latin alter, other; see al-1 in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Old French alterer (French altérer), from Medieval Latin alterare ("to make other"), from Latin alter ("the other"), from al- (seen in alius ("other"), alienus ("of another"), etc.; see alias, alien, etc.) + compar. suffix -ter. (Wiktionary)

Examples

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  • Will the storm alter its course and miss the coast?

    April 7, 2007